Hi! Roving Bears fan checking in here!
This is going to be a really tough matchup for the Falcons.
Keys to the game:
1. Kevin SHaffer has to play well vs. Alex Brown. Brown sets the tone in this game for the Bears defense when they matchup against Vick.
Our entire D looked rather poor against Pittsburgh. I expect a return to form against the Falcons. You should worry about O-gun (Lt DE) running Vick out of the pocket (as he is wont to do) and into the waiting arms of Alex Brown for a sack. It's something that they did very successfully against the Panthers...
2. Establish the run early. That means we attack the BEars undersized interior. Duckett probably needs to get a lot more work than usual.
You're currently #1 rushing O in the NFL. Da Bears (#1 D overall, 9th against the rush) know that and will stack against the run. It should be interesting to see how (or if) we handle you guys.
3. Force turnovers on defense. Orton is young and has basically been able to hold down the fort, by not making too many mistakes.
Every Defense this year has seen Orton the rookie QB as the weak point of da Bears Offense to attack. Hasn't worked very well. Our O-line is very good. Orton doesn't spook and can get rid of the ball quickly, even on busted plays, although his detractors claim he's just "overthrowing" his (covered) receivers.
4. A fast start, and the Bears don't have the offensive prowess to come back on us. I'm not saying a 7-0 lead is going to seal the W for us, but if we can get out to a 2-score lead early on, it will take the Bears out of their game.
If you can do this, you're in the driver's seat. Da Bears do have a lot of trouble coming from behind. We prefer to grab the lead (however small) and then just sit on it, rather than try to build on a lead. We protect the ball and rely on the Defense to keep you from scoring. We get more desperate when playing from behind, although we're getting better at it (Orton threw for 207 yds against Pitt, w/o any INTs, if our D had been on form it would have been an impressive win for us).
Questions to be answered:
1. Does Vick play. He won't be 100%. To be honest, I'd kind of prefer to see Schaub in there. The Bears have the prototype defense in terms of getting after Vick. They have a MLB that can spy him, a RDE that plays smart and fast and will be able to contain the bootlegs. A LDE that can put pressure from his blindside. DTs that can put pressure up the middle. A secondary that is solid and capable of creating turnovers. And a SS that is a natural playmaker that can spy Vick as well. I think Schaub is a curveball for them. The Bears aren't afraid of Vick at all. They've beaten him twice, and beaten up on him both times.
I hear that Vick will play, despite bruised ribs. If he does, then expect da Bears to come at him, often and fast. Lots of blitzing. They'll hit him with everything they've got.
2. Will the Bears make a QB change? Orton has led them thus far, but Grossman is self proclaimed to be ready to play. I don't think the Bears will make a change since Grossman is very rusty and the team continues to win under Orton despite his dismal passing numbers (remind you of another team?
That's the basic argument for keeping in Orton, which Head Coach Lovie Smith has already announced. Add to that Orton's improved passing against the Steelers and benching him becomes a hard decision to justify.
Bears: 7-2 at home in December (2001-05).
Falcons: 1-9 on road in December (2001-05).
I'm not a "stat freak," but that one I like...
BTW, a little weather report for Sunday @ Soldier Field -
Wind: Out of the west @ 13 mph
Expected High: 19 degrees
Expected Low: 12 degrees
Kickoff is 3 hours after sunset, so it'll be a lot closer to 12 than 19 degrees. With the wind chill factor, it might feel like around zero on the field at gametime...